Councils currently keep half of the rates they collect
As the government faces growing pressure to increase funding for social care, UNISON has today called on the government to allow all local authorities to keep a greater share of business rates.
At present, councils get to keep half of the rates they collect from local businesses. However, Surrey council has secured a special deal, allowing it to hold on to more of its rates income, an agreement UNISON believes should be extended to all English councils.
Earlier this month, Surrey threatened to hold a local referendum on increasing council tax by 15 per cent, to address its growing adult social care crisis. When the vote was called off, Labour claimed that Surrey had been offered a ‘sweetheart deal’ by the government.
‘Social care is in crisis with dedicated staff struggling to cope with ever-increasing demand,’ commented UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis.
“The government has recognised Surrey County Council needs more cash by allowing it to keep more of its business rates. But one council shouldn’t be allowed a better deal just because it threatened a politically embarrassing referendum.
“All councils providing social care need to be treated equally. An agreement should be drawn up now allowing them to keep more of their business rates too. This is the only way that those in desperate need of support will get the care they deserve.”
The public services union, which represents workers in the care sector, pointed out that the government has a business rates surplus of £6.6bn for 2017-18, it can cover the £1.8bn cost of extending the Surrey arrangement across the country.
Voices across the care sector have warned of an imminent collapse in service provision, and insisted that Philip Hammond should increase spending in the spring budget next month.
This morning, Labour’s Alan Johnson will lead a Westminster Hall debate on council funding and social care.Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.